Feeds

€25k for an old Nokia handset?

Scammers pay through the nose for old tech

Security for virtualized datacentres

Scammers are reportedly prepared to pay €25,000 for German Nokia 1100 handsets, on the basis that they can be reprogrammed to intercept SMS messages and thus crack banking security.

The claim comes from Ultrascan, a security association that generally follows up 419 scams and ID theft. Ultrascan tells us it was approached by Dutch police concerned that the price of a second-hand Nokia 1100 was unexpectedly rising. The company subsequently discovered that buyers were interested in a security flaw that makes the German version of the handset worth so much, though the technical background remains obscure.

The supposed exploit is based around codes - mTAN - that are sent to customers over SMS and are unique to each mobile-banking transaction. The premise is that criminals have "thousands" of login details and just lack these single-use codes, so are trying to get hold of Nokia 1100 handsets to intercept them.

The problem with this hypothesis is that the GSM security model is managed by the SIM, which colludes with the network's authentication server to create an encryption key which is made available to the handset. Communications can only be intercepted by getting hold of that key, or breaking the encryption itself, neither of which is easier to do while in possession of a Nokia 1100, German or otherwise.

We put these technical issues to Ultrascan who told us that it "did not investigate [the technical] part", but is hoping to get hold of a 1100 for testing in the next few days to see what is possible.

In the early days of GSM some operators introduced a critical flaw (zeros) into early versions of GSM cryptography, to enable the use of cheaper SIMs, but almost all operators have since upgraded to proper security and 3G networks have open algorithms that are well known to be pretty secure. Some countries, such as Pakistan, aren't permitted to use cryptography so still suffer from SIM-cloning and the like, but such places don't generally offer mobile banking for obvious reasons.

Ultrascan says it'll be in touch when it has more technical details, but for the moment it's beyond us how one phone can intercept calls made to a different SIM, and it seems more likely that one scammer is simply ripping off another with promises of magic handsets. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
You! AT&T! The only thing 'unlimited' about you is your CHEEK, growl feds
Man, we did everything but knock on their doors - carrier
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
EE launches 150Mbps '4G+' in the heart of London
LTE-A – Faster phones for Hoxton Hipsters
Watch out, Samsung and Apple: Xiaomi's No 3 in smartphones now
From obscurity to selling 19 million mobes a quarter
Brazil greenlights $200m internet cable to Europe in bid to outfox NSA
Only one problem: it won't make the slightest difference. And they know it
Wanna hop carriers with your iPad's Apple SIM? AVOID AT&T
Unless you want your network-swapping tech disabled for good, that is
Knocking Knox: Samsung DENIES vuln claims, says mysterious blogger is a JOKER
But YES, system does store encryption key on the device
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.